Veggie peelers are kitchen essentials, and because they aren't expensive, they're easy to take for granted. If you only peel the occasional carrot or cucumber, you might not care too much about your veggie peeler's design or ease of use, but if you use your vegetable peeler for skinning piles of potatoes or mountains of apples, you might find it's worth it to choose a good one.
You'll find two basic styles of veggie peelers -- standard straight peelers, where the blade is situated in line with the handle, and Y-shaped peelers, where the blade is perpendicular to the handle (they look a bit like a slingshot). We couldn't find convincing evidence that one style is inherently better than the other. One reviewer says that the Y-shaped peelers can be more comfortable for people with arthritis, but it essentially comes down to personal preference.
For the most comfortable veggie peeler, we found consistently excellent reviews for the Oxo Good Grips Swivel Peeler (*Est. $8). Editors at Gourmet magazine, who tested 11 vegetable peelers on a variety of produce, say the Oxo peeler is "perfectly balanced in the hand and glides over produce with smooth, even cuts." In their review, Canadian TV shopping gurus Kristina Matisic and Anna Wallner test four veggie peelers, including the Oxo. They praise its ergonomic, padded handle and sharp blade, which removes "just the right amount of peel." Bon Appetit magazine also recommends the Oxo veggie peeler on the strength of its swivel blade, although there's no indication that they tested this peeler or compared it to other models. Nearly 200 owners post overwhelmingly positive reviews at Amazon.com and Cooking.com, and most are satisfied with the Oxo's sharp blade and ease of use.
Another Oxo veggie peeler, the Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler (*Est. $12), also earns praise from some reviewers. Unlike the cheaper Oxo peeler, the Pro Swivel Peeler has a longer blade made of hardened stainless steel that's replaceable, and it's also heavier (4 ounces vs. 2 ounces). Additionally, some cooks may prefer the die-cast zinc eye-remover on the end of the blade to the plastic one on the Oxo Good Grips Swivel Peeler. The Pro Swivel Peeler is the top pick at Chow.com, a foodie website, for "effortlessly" peeling an apple in a continuous spiral and even peeling a tomato. Reviewer Lisa Chu says its "rubbery, contoured grip feels smooth and comfortable." It's named a runner-up at Gourmet magazine, although editors say it wasn't "as well balanced" as the cheaper Oxo veggie peeler.
It's handy to have more than one veggie peeler in your drawer, particularly if you want someone to help you peel all those potatoes. They're also the type of small gadget that tends to get lost or accidentally take a dive into the garbage disposal. For that reason, you might want to opt for several cheap veggie peelers.
Some find Y-shaped vegetable peelers more comfortable. Plus some owners say they are easier to use if you want to peel uniform ribbons of carrots, cucumbers or chocolate. Among Y-shaped veggie peelers, the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler (*Est. $11 for three) earns solid reviews. This lightweight fruit and vegetable peeler is a top pick by Gourmet magazine for its "nice sharp blade," which can handle even the tough skin on squash. It's named one of five essential kitchen hand tools by executive editor J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at SeriousEats.com, a foodie website. Although there's a bit of a learning curve involved, Lopez-Alt says the flat plastic handle, which is designed to be held "like a pencil," is much more precise than straight peelers. At Tibesti.com, culinary expert Scott Leibfried selects the Original Swiss Peeler as one of his top five peelers, although there's no indication that he compared this peeler to others.
Unlike other vegetable peelers that have stainless-steel blades, the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler has a carbon-steel blade. Some reviewers say it's not as sharp as stainless steel, while others note that it's prone to rusting if left in the dishwasher or not dried thoroughly after use. The Kuhn Rikon peeler, which comes in several colors, includes a small hook for removing potato eyes.
Oxo also makes Y-shaped peelers, although they're not recommended as often as the Kuhn Rikon peeler is. Reviewers at the Only Cookware Blog recommend the Oxo Good Grips Y Peeler (*Est. $8), saying its cushioned grip is ideal for those with arthritis. Gourmet magazine also recommends the Oxo peeler, although editors say it's not quite as good as the Kuhn Rikon.
One unusual veggie peeler is the Chef'n PalmPeeler (*Est. $6). You hold a square rubberized pad in your hand and slip one finger through a loop on the back. Chow.com recommends it for peeling carrots and vegetables that require long strokes, but Kristina Matisic and Anna Wallner didn't like the PalmPeeler for peeling potatoes; they say it "was awkward to use and didn't peel very well at all." It also gets mixed reviews at Amazon.com, where owners say the blade is sharp and swivels nicely, but it's hard to see what you are peeling.
Gourmet magazine editors test a whopping 25 peelers on a variety of produce and rank them in order of their preference. Cook's Illustrated magazine compares six fruit and vegetable peelers. Anna Wallner and Kristina Matisic, hosts of the Canadian TV show "The Shopping Bags," test four vegetable peelers using just potatoes. Chow.com, a food blog, evaluates three types of veggie peelers. Culinary expert Scott Leibfried identifies the best vegetable peelers at Tibesti.com. We found recommendations for a specific veggie peeler by Australian chef Benjamin Christie, in Bon Appetit magazine, SeriousEats.com and the Only Cookware Blog. Helpful user reviews of fruit and vegetable peelers were at Amazon.com and Cooking.com.